From the Hope Springs Eternal Department, this bulletin: a House Committee has asked Congress to stick an extra $3 billion in President Carter's budget, in the off chance he decides to approve a 10 percent federal-military pay raise this fall.
Carter has indicated that he will hold the 1979 raise for white collar government employes and the military to 5.5 percent. That's the same lid he put on government pay raises last year, even though a government survey of industry wage gains indicated federal employers were due more than 8 percent to stay even with the private sector. Each 1 percent increase costs about $500 million. Carter's budget projects about $3 billion for the October federal-military pay raise.
Federal union leaders (and many federal officials) say it would take an increase of around 10 percent this October to get government pay back into the ball park with counterpart salaries in comparable industry. A raise of that magnitude would cost about $6 billion, double the amount Carter has budgeted.
Many people disagree with the government's system for determining "comparability" with industry. Some U.S. employes believe Uncle Sam holds the wage data down, while many taxpayers think government workers manipulate the data to make themselves look worse off than they really are. The average white collar federal salary now runs about $19,000; in Washington it is approximately $22,000.
Whether you believe the comparability system is fair or foul, the point is that government workers rarely get the catch-up-with-industry amount the law says they should get.